Using Evernote as an Electronic Lab Notebook in a Translational Science Laboratory
Electronic laboratory notebooks (ELNs) offer significant advantages over traditional paper laboratory notebooks (PLNs), yet most research labs today continue to use paper documentation. While biopharmaceutical companies represent the largest portion of ELN users, government and academic labs trail far behind in their usage. Our lab, a translational science laboratory at New York University School of Medicine (NYUSoM), wanted to determine if an ELN could effectively replace PLNs in an academic research setting. Over 6 months, we used the program Evernote to record all routine experimental information. We also surveyed students working in research laboratories at NYUSoM on the relative advantages and limitations of ELNs and PLNs and discovered that electronic and paper notebook users alike reported the inability to freehand into a notebook as a limitation when using electronic methods. Using Evernote, we found that the numerous advantages of ELNs greatly outweighed the inability to freehand directly into a notebook. We also used imported snapshots and drawing program add-ons to obviate the need for freehanding. Thus, we found that using Evernote as an ELN not only effectively replaces PLNs in an academic research setting but also provides users with a wealth of other advantages over traditional paper notebooks.